Dear friends,

Gary at ETDA with his sponsor child.

Words can hardly express the realisation of so much that has come together in the last few months. We completed our 10th , fully evaluated Timor Awakening program, involving a contingent of 38, including 7 couples. We opened  the Veterans’ English Language Institute (VELI)  and Ian Hampel ( accommodation) House at Same. We got to have key engagement meetings with Darren Chester, Minister for Veterans Affairs  in Dili, where he saw and heard of our work from TA Participants, key Timor Leste Government Leaders, key Embassy officials, as well as, fellow MP Luke Gosling.

In an amazing step of solidarity, he invited a representative group of us to have breakfast with him on his final day in Dili, he endorsed our work, and has asked that I send more information to him about the “Promoting Wellness” and Post Traumatic Growth model, we  advocate. This is the strategic breakthrough that we have sought from Day 1.   A recent article in the Catholic Leader (HERE) highlights some of our successes, as do some recent programs on the ABC  HERE and SBS HERE.

Four years ago Michael Stone envisioned delivering 10 TA programs and that has come to fruition, improving the lives of 266 families. At the same time, we engage weekly with up to 30 other veterans or groups seeking advice or guidance. Tears came to my eyes as I saw the massive VELI building opened on a site that 3 months ago was virgin scrub.
We have a retreat site now in the heart of Timor, but more significantly we have a touched the hearts of thousands of people showing that life for veterans and their families can be much improved. Thank you Michael Stone for your vision and commitment.
Some September Timor “Awakenings” from our final “Circle time” included :
  • My husband has now come home to me after 20 years absence.
  • My husband and I have really connected again, after illness that had torn us apart.
  • Seeing the Timorese appreciation and how our presence has improved their lives, has deeply moved me.
  • I’ve finally found my purpose in life.
  • I’ve found more hope in 10 days than in the last 3 years of searching.
  • I will now live in the Light of today rather than the darkness of the last 20 yrs.
  • I’m excited now about the rest of my life.
  • Forgiveness- the Timorese show it – now I can too.
  • My life has been changed for the better in a big way- and I’ve still got lots more to learn.
  • This has made me want to get the potential out of every day.
 
A full TA10 evaluation report is still being collated, but our TA9 report is now available HERE. 
 
Many of the TA10 participants will be at  our 2 Nov meeting to share even more. Significantly the meeting  falls during the national Veterans Health Week and DVA have provided funds for a sumptuous healthy lunch!
Our programs for 2020  include TA12, 22Feb – 4 Mar ,  TA13 20 Jun-1 Jul, and TA 14 17-28 Oct, with our first VCA gathering likely to be 8 Feb 20.  Promote these to those of your friends who need this now.
At the AGM, I will formally thank our sponsors and key staff, as well as our generous volunteers. We clearly have a wonderful community of caring people that make this all happen. Thank you all.
Secretary Col Ahern, has separately sent out papers for the AGM.  Being read into it in advance, it can be short. But in order to vote you will need to have renewed your membership. You can do so here.
This will be our last newsletter for 2019 , and so I would wish you Gods blessings this Christmas, and in the words of Jesus,  May you have life, and live it to the fullest (John 10.10 ) 
       

I’ll let the pictures now tell more of the story
May God bless you
Gary Stone

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